Class Meetings Help To Solve Problems
Class meetings have been around as a way to help students and to learn how to solve problems collectively for years. This year, Ms. Rychter's class conducted class meetings to help students learn the thinking and nuances around solving problems.
Class meetings were held every Friday, right after lunch. The purpose - to build community, to help students learn to problem solve, and to become democratic citizens. Students sat in a circle and started with good things that have happened in the class community (eg. I would like to give a compliment to ......for .........). While no one is forced to share, it is a good way for the teacher to model what giving a compliment, and receiving a compliment should look like / sound like. Once this goes around the circle, the students focus on issues that are occurring in the room and/or things that they would like to change. Students were given sentence starter frames (I would like to change...... etc.) to help them get started. If there were issues, students sometimes problem solved as individuals, pairs, small groups, whole group, depending on the issue. All possible solutions are then shared out and are worked through as a class. As long as solutions were safe and plausible, they were tried to determone whether they worked or created further issues. Through this action, students see that all ideas have merit, and that sometimes what we think are solutions end up not working or create other issues. The other thing that this does is it takes the oness off the adult and puts the responsibility back on the students, or the individual to solve the problem.
In addition, there was a lot of teaching about separating the issue from the person - what is it that's disturbing them, not who is disturbing them. Students are encouraged to see that it is the problem that needs to be solved, not the person - what needs to be changed in order for the environment to change or for the issue to be remedied.
Issues brought forward at these meetings were recorded and were subsequently revisited the following week to determine whether progress had been made or whether another strategy needed to be tried.